Dual-citizens the Socceroos should be watching closely

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The clock had just passed the hour mark at Stadio Olympico, and things were dire for AS Roma…

Hellas Verona had stretched out to a 2-0 lead inside just 20 minutes. Roma’s ‘putrid’ first-half performance was likened to that of a ‘bottom-of-the-table, Sunday league team’ by Roma fanzine, Chiesa Di Totti.

Head coach José Mourinho threw on 18-year-old Cristian Volpato. A second Serie A appearance coming over two months after his first one. His fresh legs and fresh-faced fearlessness a hopeful roll of the dice with a humiliating home defeat on the horizon.

Just three minutes later, Volpato thundered through a crowded penalty area to ignite a fightback in the capital. But that would not be all…

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The Camperdown-born attacking midfielder has sparked urgent rallying for a Socceroos call-up from the Australian press. Wishes that are set to be denied by coach Graham Arnold, who has said he will not hand out an international cap to tie-down a young footballer with a career-defining and life-changing decision to make.

Arnold instead chose to criticise the youth setup of Australian football. A system that saw Volpato rejected by both Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers, only to find his feet at a much higher level of football with Roma.

The Football Sack looks at which other Aussie talents are breaking through overseas that are yet to be officially tied to an international team…

Deni Jurić

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Brother of Tomi Juric, who has been capped for the Socceroos 41 times, Deni has played no football in Australia. His youth career began with Croatia Sesvete in the country’s capital. He would sandwich a brief stint in Slovenia with spells at six Croatian clubs, a path that ended in 2021 when he secured a move to Dinamo Zagreb.

He has featured nine times for them this season since returning from his loan with Šibenik, scoring once and providing two assists. He made three appearances in their European charge which ended at the playoff stage after a 3-2 aggregate loss to Sevilla, the most successful team in Europa League history. He featured as a substitute when his side beat West Ham 1-0 at London Stadium.

With European experience rare to find in young Socceroos, Juric is certainly one that Australian football will be keeping tabs on as he cements his spot in Dinamo Zagreb’s starting side.

He has featured for both Croatia and Australia at youth level, and is eligible to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina given the dual citizenship of his parents.

Tyrese Francois

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The Campbelltown-born midfielder played for Camden Tigers when he was young and joined Fulham in 2013 when his family moved to London. He signed his first professional contract in 2019 and debuted against Southampton in the EFL Cup later that year. He earned his Premier League debut in a 2-0 loss to Newcastle United in 2021.

Despite his English-Australian dual citizenship and that he is yet to feature in a competitive Socceroos match, Francois has pledged his allegiance to his nation of birth. He has also voiced his frustrations at the lack of recognition from the Australian set-up, believing his early move to England has kept him off the radar of the national team.

As Fulham continue to run away at the top of the Championship, now nine points ahead of second-placed Bournemouth, Francois will be looking to build on his surprisingly low tally of two league appearances.

Caleb Watts

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Watts broke into Southampton’s first team in the 2020/21 season, coming off the bench to play up front three times in the Premier League. He also started and played 85 minutes in their FA Cup third round win over Shrewsbury Town, and held down a spot on the bench until the semi-final.

He struggled to stay in the squad this season, and was given an opportunity for first-team football with a January loan move to League Two side Crawley Town.

He came off the bench just three days after his arrival, but was forced from the pitch with a torn hamstring after 17 minutes.

With a bit more luck and more of the quality performances that earned him a spot last season, the English-born Australian could again break into Premier League action. With his time spent in the Socceroos youth teams potentially indicative of his international footballing preference, he is certainly one to watch for Australian football fans.

Alou Kuol

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Kuol burst onto the scene at the start of the 2020/21 A-League Men season. After appearing just four times in the season prior, he netted five goals in his first seven games. He would rack up 26 appearances come the end of the season, and earn himself a move to Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart for a reported AUD $615,000.

Whilst he is yet to be named in a match-day squad for Stuttgart, he has been turning in consistently promising performances with their reserve side, VfB Stuttgart II. He scored seven goals in 18 appearances before leaving on loan to SV Sandhausen in the January window. They compete in the second tier of German football, two divisions higher than Stuttgart II.

Kuol was born in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. He is eligible to play for both Sudan and Australia, and is yet to feature for either nation at youth or friendly level. The 20 year-old is one of the ALM’s most exciting young exports. With an opportunity to prove his worth a whole two divisions higher than where he has been, those who admired him during his days in Australia will be watching eagerly.

Stats and information sourced from Ultimate A-League and Transfermarkt.

Feature Image Credit: Socceroos

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Tom Macraehttp://medium.com/@macraetomr23
Communications undergrad at Western Sydney University covering Macarthur FC in the 2021/22 season. Newcastle United. Jack Grealish fangirl.

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